Friday, May 27, 2011

Great Things

Sun rise

Being able to see the moon during the day
(I promise, the white smudge in the middle is the moon)

Blueberries
(for both taste and sentimental reasons)

Neti pots

Long distance communication technologies


Enough

The idea of "enough" has come up for me a few times lately; most notably in the documentary I Am and in the book The Outliers.

Both sources talk about the balance of having enough of something; I Am related it to material possessions and The Outliers is speaking to intelligence. There is a certain amount of any given thing that is ideal, and if you possess amounts beyond that there is either no significant difference, or their is a negative difference.

Take material possession, for example. It is definitely beneficial to have shelter, enough food, warmth, and a sustainable number of usable objects like dishes, somewhere comfortable to sleep, et cetera. But beyond "enough," we start possessing more than we need. That's when we run into trouble. When cells in our body takes more than they need, we call it "cancer." Sure the cancer is doing great, having a ball, multiplying... but the rest of the body is suffering. If we think of the globe as an organism, with all of the living things being connected, as in a body, we can see how this becomes an issue. Those of us with more than we need are taking resources from some of the rest of us. When native tribes saw this attribute in early white colonists, they considered it a mental illness. I see their point.

I suppose it might be difficult is to figure out exactly how much really is enough for you, or your family. I think this takes some pretty radical authenticity and flexibility and being nonjudgemental, and that the answer will be different for everyone. I don't think it's our right to judge other people's answers, although I think it's always ok to compassionately question.

In terms of intelligence, there is a point (exactly where that point is is debatable) when adding more IQ points just doesn't matter. At that point you are able to do whatever you want to do. Additional thinking is just a fun game, but so is Monopoly and it doesn't serve a whole lot of purpose either.

I suspect this concept of enough applies to all aspects of living. Maybe it's what is meant by "moderation in all things." I mean, if you eat more or less than enough you become unhealthy. If you work more or less than enough; unhealthy. Sleep more or less than enough; unhealthy. If you have too many friends or too few, your social self suffers.

I intend to spend time thinking about what "enough" means for me, in various aspects of my life, and then making plans on how to get there. I expect to find myself a lot happier for it.

UPDATE:
Someone just shared this with me via a private response, and I think it was pretty profound: "The cure for too many resources is to share with others.  Likewise, the cure for extra intellect and talents is to share them with others."

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Being Nonjudgmental

I have had some pretty big self judgements around my fitness level. This weekend I went on a weekend-long hike with my brother and overcame a lot of these judgements.

One thing that helped was just being really conscious of my judgements and recognizing them, and then telling them I did not need them; that they weren't realistic or helpful. I reminded myself that where I am is perfect, and that I can have wants while still loving where I am.

Another thing that was incredibly helpful was my wonderful brother.

He is an amazing mountain climber with some great adventures under his belt. (Yep, this picture is really of him!)
I suspect that the parts of our weekend that I found extremely strenuous, he found a nice mild stretching exercise. If you were to compare our levels of fitness and experience... well, there just is no comparison (much like a NASA rocket and the nose of a hound dog). 

And yet, I never sensed frustration from him at all (or any of the other emotions, like disgust, that I have sometimes felt for myself but suspect never even crossed his mind). His example of how to be supportive and nurturing, yet realistic, was a great way for me to learn about how to do it for myself.

I doubt that I'm now completely and forever done with judging myself, but this weekend was a great step towards that!

Internal Goals

I went on a wilderness adventure with my brother this weekend. We went to Linville Gorge Wilderness Area and basically hiked out for a day, camped, and hiked back for a day. It was an incredible experience.



I learned a really important lesson about the value of internal goals versus external goals. What happened was, we found ourselves on a long, sustained, steep, rocky downhill. Part way down (turns out, about 2/3 down maybe) we stopped to take stock of where we were, and how we were feeling. We decided to turn back, knowing that (especially for me) uphill would be even more difficult than downhill. 

We had had something of a goal/idea of making it to Shortoff Mountain, and were something like 2 miles short of that. My true goal though, the root of the Shortoff goal, was to really test the limits of my personal endurance and to find out where my body is in terms of this kind of thing. That goal was met beautifully by this decision to turn back.

I learned that when our goals are internal (ie, based on comparisons only to ourselves and on stretching our selves) they are always achievable. When goals are external (ie, based on a number of miles, a number of minutes, or some other external criteria) it is all too possible to fall short.

I think internal goals are more satisfying and nourishing and gratifying and just all around more real

I conquered a couple of fears that I had around spending a night in the wilderness, as well. But looking back I'm wondering if those fears, while they did have some life all of their own, were really a mask. I'm starting to suspect that I was judging myself based on my fitness level and using my overnight fears as a way to try to squirm out of the possibility of doing a full weekend adventure (versus a day trip, which would be, of course, approximately half as taxing!). 


Friday, May 20, 2011

Great Things

Brothers

Wilderness adventures

Raw Revolution bars

Pema Chodron

REI
(And may I point out, all their stores' door handles are made of ice axes!)


Thursday, May 19, 2011

I Am Not Sick!

Of course, I'm always grateful to be not sick. But this is a particular case.

You see, yesterday I kind of was sick. I woke up coughing a bit, and kind of congested. I was really low energy and blah. I was definitely coming down with a cold.

(That's the common cold virus as a plush toy. Cute, right? But I still don't want it hanging out in my body.)


And so, I made a conscious decision that I did not want to be sick. That may sound kind of obvious, but I don't think I've ever done it before. Really, I've often kind of wanted to be sick. It gave me an excuse to have down time and nurture myself, and I think being sick kind of gave me something to do, too. But I'm nurturing myself in healthier ways now (no pun intended!) and I have things going on that I don't want to miss.

So anyway, I set that intention that I did not want to be sick. And then I cancelled some of my plans for the day so that I could get rest. And I consistently (and constantly!) took supplements to support my body in fighting off the invaders.

And today.... I am not sick! This is the first time in my memory that I have conquered a cold before it conquered me!

I'm so proud of my fighter cells, and of myself for supporting them well so that they could do their job well.

 (That's little fighter cells working together to kick an invader's butt!)

Easy Counts Too!

I remember what I wanted to write about! Phew!

I've noticed over the past week or so that I seem to have a belief about things that are easy to do. I think this belief is only about me; in other words, I have a double standard here. But the part I'm exploring now is how it relates to me, at any rate.

At therapy group today, a women told me my hair looks pretty. She always seems to say this on days when all I've done is shower and go, maybe with a quick clip to keep it out of my face.

In the online nutrition course I am doing, I made a post to a forum about my cooking style. Basically I cook very simply, with few ingredients and limited preparation for each dish.

I spoke with some people about taking supplements. They spoke of their struggles with knowing which to take, and why, and when, and how often. I also take supplements, but I go to an excellent naturopathic doctor. She tells me what to take and when and why and what the dosage is. Clearly, I have some say in it all, but I don't have nearly the struggles these other people did. I felt like I was cheating somehow.

In all of these cases, and quite a few others that have come up lately, I felt like I was cheating somehow. I didn't do anything special with my hair, I didn't put in much time or effort, so it wasn't worthy of comment. I don't struggle with or sweat over my cooking, so it's not real cooking.

One way I'm trying to see things now is, I am someone who is very good at living simply and finding ways to maintain and increase that simplicity. I think that's a really good trait to have (even if society doesn't always agree in practice).

I don't feel like I'm missing anything by not preparing complex meals or spending an hour doing my hair. In fact, I rather like the way I'm doing things now. I just sometimes feel like it's not real, or valid, or enough somehow....

Any thoughts? Please share them!

UPDATE:
I just had another thought about this. Maybe the base is how well I am doing mentally/emotionally the past few years. Even though some of my self-work is difficult, it's always fun. Fun in the sense of overall enjoyable and something I want to do, something interesting. So who am I to be getting credit for doing so well, and even to be doing so well, when so many others are working just as hard or harder, and are still stuck in really tough times?

It's not that I don't want to be doing well, or to have nice hair, or to take supplements. It's more, is it OK to be getting compliments and credit and kudos for things that aren't a struggle?

How much of a big deal should be made for something that comes easily?

I Have No Idea

I had a topic I wanted to post about... and I forgot what it was.

So I thought that if I opened the page and started writing it might come to me.

It hasn't yet.

Still don't remember.

Thinking...

OK, yeah, I have no idea what this post was supposed to be about.

Here's a funny cake instead.

Friday, May 13, 2011

My Day Kicks @$$

And so do I, if I do say so myself.

Today I woke up at 6:30 (on purpose and without an alarm).

I said prayers, read from the Holy Writings, and meditated.

I went on a 45 minute walk, took a cool shower, and got dressed.

I made eggs and sauteed fresh spinach for breakfast, and ate it mindfully while doing nothing else but enjoying the view from my window.

I studied two Institute for Integrative Nutrition units and came up with some fun ideas to help curb my sweet-food cravings.

I said my Obligatory Prayer.

Became frustrated with a task someone asked me to do, told them it was frustrating, and worked out a different solution with them.

I made a dress I didn't like into a dress I do, by just cutting off some fringe.

I played some games and talked to some lovely people online.

I walked to the bank and the health food store, and got some lovely fresh kale, peas, broccoli, blueberries, and a mango.

Now I will relax for a while with a book or maybe some internet surfing.

This evening I will go see Theater Charlotte's production of Rent.

When I get home I will read the Holy Writings again, write a list of things I am grateful for from others, from the world, and from myself, read for a bit while I have a cup of tea, and go to bed.

Is that an awesome day, or what!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Poison As Medicine

This morning I had to have a CT scan, which involves not eating or drinking (except water) for 4 hours before the scan. I made a conscious decision not to wake up at like 4:30 am to be able to get a meal in, so I wound up not eating from about 8pm last night until around 11:30 this morning (CT scans take a long time, what with the prep of drinking horrible contrast and all).

I knew going into it that it would be a totally not-ideal food situation for me, so I planned for that. When I get really hungry I get headachey and nauseated. The oral contrast makes me a little nauseated, too. So I had decided ahead of time that I could eat whatever sounded good to me afterwards, regardless of what it was or where it came from. I also ordered a soda along with my water for the meal. I deliberately and consciously used the soda to boost my blood sugar quickly to start to deal with the effects of not eating for so long as quickly as possible, while I ate more complex carbohydratess and proteins to remedy it long term.

Sometimes the right amount of poison (one glass of soda in this case) can be a medicine, as long as it's administered at the proper times and in the proper doses. Just like chemotherapy, I suppose.

That said, I found the soda pretty nasty!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

More On Not Sharing Goals

This video shares some of the science behind the idea that sharing goals can undermine your enthusiasm for them.

I like the bit at the end about "if you really must talk about your goals, state it in a way that doesn't give you much satisfaction." In other words, say "I want to be a pilot, but I have a lot of flight hours to clock before that," rather than "I'm going to become a pilot."

I think for me just not talking about goals, except in the vaguest sense, would be best. So if weight loss were a goal, instead of detailing how much weight I plan to lose and how I plan to lose it, I'd just say "I'll be working on losing some weight" if I feel that I need to comment on a goal at all.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Evening Blues

OK, I had kinda gotten rid of the evening mood swings for a good few weeks there.

But yesterday and today, they are back. Of note:
-both yesterday and today I had small amounts of gluten
-both yesterday and today I have been menstruating
-yesterday and the day before, I had a soft drink that does not contain refined sugar or HFCS, but is made with fruit juice concentrate and definitely tastes sweeter than anything I've had lately

Other than those three items, I can't think of any differences between the last few weeks and the last two days.

I'm not sure what's up... both days were good, productive, fun. Maybe too much media? I feel like maybe I've been at the computer too much maybe?

Any ideas, friends?

Interestingness Walk Photos

Here are photos of my interestingness walk!

(Click the link to see them on my flickr page)

Once A Mother, Always A Mother

The Heart of the Unknown Mother (Unknown to us, but definitely known through spirit and soul to her child)
by C.P. Est├ęs

Whether children landed on earth,
but had to leave too soon,
whether they were detoured
before they could be born,
whether they were wrenched away,
or lost for unexplained reasons,
whether they were here
for just a few moments,
or a few days...
they all are blessed children.
Full children of ours.

When people ask, "Are you a mother?'
you are entitled to say 'Yes,
I am a mother.'
'Oh, how many?' they might ask.
Tell them.
You are entitled to say
the full number of children,
including the ones
who were on their way
and never made it
for whichever reasons,
including those who came
but could not stay.

When people ask, 'Where are your children?
Do they live near by?
Say, 'Yes, they live very near by,
right here, in my heart.'

Friday, May 6, 2011

Great Things: Boundaries Edition

Knowing my boundaries...


 ...and clearly setting them...


...and knowing when to make them permeable...

...and when to leave a door...


...and when to make them solid.


Knowing that boundaries are beautiful...
 

...no matter what they look like.
And not feeling guilt about them.

I'm Getting Flexier!

OK, so "flexier" isn't a word, but "more flexible" didn't seem as fun.

I've been going on a walk every morning. Usually I try to do it before I turn on the computer. But today, I've turned on the computer first, Because I'm flexy.

You see, it's 46 degrees (fahrenheit) out there right now (apparently this is a phenomena called "blackberry summer" and I do not approve).

So today, I am waiting til it warms up a bit before I go on my walk.

A few years or maybe even months ago, I think I would have either given up on the walk entirely, or made myself go out and walk anyway, all shivery and hating it.

So, yay flexiness!

Telling: An Update

This is a follow up to this post ("Telling") which was about how my goals seem to lose momentum once I share them. 

An interesting note: my therapist says that she finds that most people she works with also lose goal momentum when they share their goals except in the vaguest of ways (ie, "I'm trying to eat healthier" rather than "I will have stopped eating sugar within 3 weeks."). The course I am taking online recommends not sharing much of your goals as well.

As near as I can figure, for me anyway (and partly based on input from the therapist and course materials), it has to do with losing that perfect imagining of my goal and how I will get there.

For example, say my goal is to stop eating sugar. When I visualize it, I have this beautiful image of a skinnier, healthier me eating a gorgeous, whole foods meal. So I go to my friend all excited and say, "Hey! I'm gonna stop eating sugar!" and I'm all excited with my image, right? And then my friend says "Wow, what about that one ice cream flavor you love?" or "Aw, when we go out, we aren't going to share dessert any more?" and now I'm all conflicted again, instead of being able to ride my own momentum.

I think that I also fear judgment for people about what my goals are, why I want them as goals, how I wound up in such a place that I need them as goals, what my outcomes are....

So that's where I am with the idea of not telling much about what my goals are.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Interestingness is Interesting

Before the interestingness, though, a shout-out to a certain sidhe I know, who is excellent at discussing leaping technique, and applauding when I pull it off. May her own leaps be long and graceful.

So, this morning I went on a walk. My goal right now is a minimum of 5 minutes a day, but I feel silly just walking up the street for 2 or 3 minutes and then turning around, so I usually walk around the block, which comes to 10 to 12 minutes. It's been kinda drudgery-ish. The neighborhood where I live is gorgeous, so I didn't understand why I wasn't enjoying my walks more.

This morning I got around most of the block and was about to turn the corner for home when I had this random flash of an idea to continue walking for a bit and check out the park near my house (which, I am somewhat ashamed to say, I have lived less than half a mile from for nearly a year now and never been to). I'll admit that I wavered on the corner for a second, but since obeying my intuition is something I'm working on, I headed park-ward.

And there I discovered what my walks had been missing: interestingness! Sure, my neighborhood is beautiful but it's all rather uniform. The buildings are identical, the trees are the same species and approximately all the same age... nothing really stands out.

The park started with a playground that I had fun imagining full of kids as I walked by. I had the thought that I could turn around and head home now, having "checked out the park" but I was curious to see where the path through the trees led. It quickly led to a fork in the path. To the right I could see it curving back to the playground, and to the left it crossed a small creek and disappeared into some woods.

I considered for a moment, but turned left. As I crossed the bridge a tiny chipmunk watched me. The path continued past a wall of honeysuckle bushes (one of my favorite smells in the world) and followed the creek for a ways before dead ending at a road.

I wasn't sure of the name of the road, and once again considered turning around. I caught sight of an intersection and thought I'd just go to the intersection and read the street signs, then probably turn around. I recognized the name of the cross-street, and decided to take a chance on my (infamous) sense of direction and continue on.

I passed even more interestingness! There is a house that has a statue of the Virgin May right next to a really hideous gargoyle. Another place had a crazy overgrown yard and a swath of ivy across the front door (but not across the outer glass door); I'm not sure if it was inhabited or not. One yard had been turned into a zen rock garden, with raked gravel and three tall boulders grouped in one corner. The wooden rake (just like a giant version of the one that comes with those desk-sized zen sand gardens) leaned against the porch and the rake-lines were meticulous.

Pretty soon I came to a road I was more familiar with (I actually wound up 5 or 10 minutes from home!) and decided I'd explored enough for the day. My 10 minute walk had turned into 45 minutes, and I actually enjoyed it.

Here's the really exciting thing: I'm looking forward to walking this route tomorrow! I want check on all of the interesting landmarks and get to enjoy them again, and see if/how they change.

I guess this is what they mean when they say, find a form of exercise that you enjoy... maybe for me it's not so much the format as what happens along the way.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Reward Ideas

I am looking for ideas for rewards for myself (related to personal goals, et cetera). The idea critera are:

Ideas are NOT food. (But can be food-related, like taking a cooking class or something.)

Ideas aren't withholding things that are good for me. (So, for example, "go on a hike" would not be a good reward for me, because I am working on ways to get out and get moving more as a health thing and wouldn't want to with hold that from myself just because I hadn't yet met a goal.)

Ideally, ideas should not cost a whole lot, but I'm open to using a few of those too.

Thanks!

"Voracious"

My friend wrote this:

Voracious


She doesn't write anymore,
just devours books like souls
eats the characters
swallowing down traits
and thoughts.


Voracious,
she is consuming entire lives
one word at a time.

One thing that I am reading into it (no pun intended!) is the idea of doing that I've been exploring lately.

I think I have been much like the "she" in this poem. Reading/observing/reflecting a whole lot, one word/thought/idea at a time, but then not doing any thing with it, just moving on to read/observe/reflect on the next morsel of information.

It was cool to see this idea in a poem, and a really good one at that!

Great Things: All About Me Edition

A friend recently took up a challenge on her blog: to come up with 10 positive things about herself. That sounded fun, so here we go.

1. I have pretty great hair.

2. I am not afraid to be authentic.

3. I have quick wit.

4. I am dedicated to bettering myself (and thereby the world).

5. I am creative, and have a good eye for symmetry and balance.

6. I have an amazing memory, for things I am interested in.

7. I am skilled at research.

8. I have a very high capacity for hope and optimism.

9. I am pretty detached, materially speaking (in a good way).

10. I am really good at living simply.